It is an unfortunate result of a community unprepared for the power of Hurricane Sally.
The boats were left unmoored, and not secured at moorings that sank at the bottom of the waterways of northwest Florida, spilling gallons and gallons of oil.
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) says it is aware of at least one boat that capsized in Pensacola Bay with 300 gallons of fuel on board.
The Environmental Protection Administration says it is also aware that fuel containing equipment from Skanska barges has bypassed the boat and that hydraulic oil and diesel were launched near Bayou Texar.
DEP says the additional sunken ships reported in Santa Rosa Sound could have also contributed to the oil’s big sheen.
The U.S. Coast Guard began clean-up efforts on Friday, using absorbent booms.
Channel Three spoke to environmental specialist Sava Varazzo. He says the sheen of great oil in the Gulf probably won’t be the last.
“I have no doubt that you will see accidental oil slicks or spills coming from one side of the coast to the other side where ships have fallen,” Varazo said. But I am sure there is oil elsewhere that is still flowing under the water. “
On Friday, the Department of Environmental Protection conducted field visits at nine berths and fuel depots in Pensacola.
They confirmed the discovery of oil sheen from sunken ships at three sites – Palafox Pier Marina
Varazzo said, “Oil is like blood. One drop looks a lot, especially when shaving. When it comes to oil, one gallon can bargain acres and acres of water.”
The Environmental Protection Department also confirmed that there was no oil leak from the nearby fuel farm – TransMontaigne Product Services. Their fuel tanks and mains are intact.
Varazzo says everyone should stay out of the water until reports of the oil stop shining.
“Be very careful,” Varazzo said. “There are all kinds of harmful things in the water right now … hydraulic oil, gasoline, sewage, paint thinners, and other toxins washed away by the storm.”
The Environmental Protection Department is coordinating clean-up efforts with the U.S. Coast Guard and Florida Fish and Wildlife. They tell us that the responsible parties will be held accountable if the set safeguards are violated. At this time, they did not identify any violations.